“THE TRAIL” novel

TheTrail_designsB1 for Patriot Ledger

Permit me a post on my hiking novel, The Trail, a thriller which takes place along the Appalachian Trail. As some of you know, I conceived this novel while thru-hiking the A.T. using the trail name Hamlet. I used my journals and in this novel take the reader from GA to ME.

My book is not just another walk in the woods! And I didn’t encounter anything like the evil I wrote about therein. I had a wonderful experience and returned with a positive outlook on humanity in general and on our young people in particular. However, it is always wise to stay alert in the wilds, and I urge women to not hike alone.

This is the time of year hikers prepare for a long-distance hike so, I’m reaching out to the hiking/adventure community. The Trail is available at any bookstore and on Amazon-as a traditional book or as an ebook. Check it out on my website below.  I’d love to hear your comments about my story. Thank you, and happy trails!

12004009_10207978140554153_6055922694178555459_n(1)        http://www.RayKAnderson.com

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Speed Records on Trails: Good idea or bad?

Appalachian Trail sunrise in Maine's mountains

Appalachian Trail, Georgia's Springer Mountain

A.T. in fourteen states

Hiking the A.T.

Mt. Katahdin-Maine

Not that long ago, Associated Press ran an article about a woman who’d just completed hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes! Then last year, a runner shaved several hours off that time. Now we learn that a new record has been set. An ultra runner has just completed the A.T. in 45 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes.

While I’m in awe of these accomplishments, I’m wondering why they do this. What is the logic or meaning behind it? The article states at the site above that she never ignored the beauty of the 2,180-mile trek from Maine to Georgia. But did she stop to smell the wildflowers, rest by waterfalls, take the time to absorb the landscapes of nature, take the time to observe animals in their habitats? Bombing along at an average of 47 miles a day, I doubt it.

“Fastest is so relative,” the young lady states, “…what are you not going to see at three miles per hour?” That’s like saying, I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace yesterday, every word, so what could I have missed?

Maybe I don’t get it. Many others have tried for speed records thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. And I remember reading about one man who thru-hiked the triple crown (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail), about 7800 miles, in one year! Think of all that he glimpsed but didn’t experience. How much did he really see and absorb in the Rockies, Yosemite, the Sierras?

For all you speed demons, slow down. And take the time to smell the flowers.

Miscellaneous: In my post about cleaning sleeping bags, Carol Chubb of Massachusetts suggests throwing several tennis balls into the dryer with the sleeping bag. This will help break up any down clumps. Thanks, Carol.

Shelter or Tent?

The Tricorner Knob Shelter, just below the sum...

The Tricorner Knob Shelter, just below the summit of Tricorner Knob (el. 6,120 feet/1,865 meters) in the Great Smoky Mountains. The shelter is one of the most remote structures in the state of Tennessee, being a 9 mile hike from the nearest parking lot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

IMG_0187

hiking shelter registers

A.T. Shelter

In January 2012, I posted about whether it’s better to shelter or tent. I’ve reproduced the discussion below. But now there may be a big disadvantage to sleeping in a shelter versus choosing a tent. Hantavirus! This nasty affliction is spread by rodents, especially mice. Mice habituate shelters, and hikers tolerate them.

In the picture above, hikers can hang their food, but hikers are exposed to mice scurrying around during the night. Hantavirus is a severe illness.  http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Case-of-hantavirus-in-Adirondacks-confirmed-3973769.php

Most hiking trails don’t provide shelters. The Appalachian Trail and The Long Trail (Vermont) have many shelters.

They are convenient, but a tent, especially for sleeping, has advantages.

Privacy – You aren’t a stuffed sardine when it gets crowded.

Warmth – A tent with a rain-fly is warmer than an open shelter.

Better Sleep – You are not poked, or kicked, or outsnored.

No Mice – Those critters can drive you nuts!

So why choose a shelter to sleep in?

Convenience – Less hassle. No need to unpack and set up a tent; no need to dismantle and re-pack the tent in the morning, possibly in the rain.

Clothesline – Many shelters have them already. Easy to rig up, or simply hang garments from nails and hooks provided. Clothes are protected from outside weather.

Ease – Can sit and lean against a wall to read, journal, contemplate (I’m sore, I’m tired, I wish I had pizza and beer.)

Camaraderie!

“THE TRAIL” novel

TheTrail_designsB1 for Patriot Ledger

Permit me a post on my début novel, The Trail, a thriller which takes place along the Appalachian Trail. As some of you know, I conceived this novel while thru-hiking the A.T. using the trail name Hamlet. I used my journals and in this novel take the reader from GA to ME.

My book is not just another walk in the woods. And I didn’t encounter anything like the evil I wrote about therein. I had a wonderful experience and returned with a positive outlook on humanity in general and on our young people in particular. However, it is always wise to stay alert in the wilds, and I urge women to not hike alone.

The book is doing fine, but I’m hoping to reach out to the hiking/adventure community. So, that’s why I’m posting here. The Trail is available at any bookstore and on Amazon-as a traditional book or as an ebook. Check it out on my website below.  I’d love to hear your comments about my story. Thank you, and happy trails!

12004009_10207978140554153_6055922694178555459_n(1)        http://www.RayKAnderson.com

Speed Records on Trails: Good idea or bad?

Mt Katahdin

Mt. Katahdin, Maine

Springer Mountain-GA

Two years ago, Associated Press ran an article about a woman who’d just completed hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes! Well, that’s dandy.

While I’m in awe of the accomplishment, I’m wondering why she did this. What is the logic or meaning behind it? The article states that she never ignored the beauty of the 2,180-mile trek from Maine to Georgia. But did she stop to smell the wildflowers, rest by waterfalls, take the time to absorb the landscapes of nature, take the time to observe animals in their habitats? Bombing along at an average of 47 miles a day, I doubt it.

“Fastest is so relative,” the young lady states, “…what are you not going to see at three miles per hour?” That’s like saying, I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace yesterday, every word, so what could I have missed?

Maybe I don’t get it. Many others have tried for speed records thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. And I remember reading about one man who thru-hiked the triple crown (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail), about 7800 miles, in one year! Think of all that he glimpsed but didn’t experience. How much did he really see and absorb in the Rockies, Yosemite, the Sierras?

For all you speed demons, slow down. And take the time to smell the flowers.

Miscellaneous: In my post about cleaning sleeping bags, Carol Chubb of Massachusetts suggests throwing several tennis balls into the dryer with the sleeping bag. This will help break up any down clumps. Thanks, Carol.

Trail Angels and Trail Magic

Water Cache--Pacific Crest Trail

Water Cache–Pacific Crest Trail

Hats off to all Trail Angels and to any other good souls who make Trail Magic.

As defined by Michele Ray in her book, How to Hike the A.T., a trail angel is a person who does kind things for hikers, such as offering them shelter, food, or water. Trail magic is comprised of the serendipitous, silent acts of kindness performed by trail angels.

hoker trail magic

Trail Magic performed by a Trail Angel

Trail Magic can be an exhilarating experience. Imagine yourself tired, cranky, and beat up from the trail. Most of all you are thirsty. You’re low on water and what water you have is warm. All of a sudden, you see a piece of cardboard fastened to a tree. ICE COLD DRINKS STRAIGHT AHEAD ON RIGHT! it says. Really? Can this be true? Sure enough, there’s a cooler stashed beneath a pine just off the trail. You swing up the lid and packed in ice are Mountain Dews, Cokes, Gatorades—bottled ice water!

Yes, there are such grand and considerate people in our land. On the Pacific Crest Trail, trail angels regularly stock caches of bottled water in gallons along the desert boundary. These people are so dependable that their water caches are listed in the trail guides. They may be volunteers from hiking clubs, who take turns, but whoever you are, please know that we hikers appreciate it.

At an Appalachian Trail junction near the town of Andover, Maine, an old man sat on a stump with a basket of fruit beside him. An apple never tasted so good. This trail angel told me he came to the same spot several times a week during thru-hiker season. He had peaches, pears, and plums, besides apples.

Talk about trail angels. The picnic photo is from the top of Beauty Spot, a bald in North Carolina, right on the A.T. The three ladies on the left are trail angels. They drove a van, piled with food, to the top and shared with thru-hikers all day. The occasion? Easter Sunday, 2003! Need I say more.

What trail angel or trail magic experience can you share?

Trail Angels--Appalachian Trail

Trail Angels–Appalachian Trail

Hiking Tip–Physical preparation

Preparing for a thru-hike of a long-distance trail

How does one physically prepare for an extended hike? Most people, if they are heavy, will attempt to drop weight and work out. Many in decent shape will do more running, or jump on a treadmill. All of this is good, but there is something else you need to do.

Take a look at the pictures. In the one with the blaze on the tree, that is the actual trail to the left of the blaze. This is a particularly rocky section of the AT in Pennsylvania. No matter how many times you jog around the high school track, your legs and feet are not prepared for this. Nor roots. Roots are everywhere and anywhere–even on rocks like shown above. Tip: Start backpacking in fields, forests, and parklands near you, and build up to shakedown hikes over diverse terrain.

This way your legs and body adapt to field conditions. Although I haven’t done it, I think climbing up and down stairs in a stadium, with your backpack, will help you if you live in the city. Best of all, build yourself up to a full backpack with all attachments (tent, sleeping pad, etc.) and get outside and go. Don’t do too much, too soon, too fast; build yourself up.

Shelter or Tent?

The Tricorner Knob Shelter, just below the sum...

The Tricorner Knob Shelter, just below the summit of Tricorner Knob (el. 6,120 feet/1,865 meters) in the Great Smoky Mountains. The shelter is one of the most remote structures in the state of Tennessee, being a 9 mile hike from the nearest parking lot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Appalachian Trail shelters and tents

In January 2012, I posted about whether it’s better to shelter or tent. I’ve reproduced the discussion below. But now there may be a big disadvantage to sleeping in a shelter versus choosing a tent. Hantavirus! This nasty affliction is spread by rodents, especially mice. Mice habituate shelters, and hikers tolerate them.

In the picture above, hikers can hang their food, but hikers are exposed to mice scurrying around during the night. Hantavirus is a severe illness.  http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Case-of-hantavirus-in-Adirondacks-confirmed-3973769.php

Most hiking trails don’t provide shelters. The Appalachian Trail and The Long Trail (Vermont) have many shelters.Hiking and tenting on long-distance trails

They are convenient, but a tent, especially for sleeping, has advantages.

Privacy – You aren’t a stuffed sardine when it gets crowded.

Warmth – A tent with a rain-fly is warmer than an open shelter.

Better Sleep – You are not poked, or kicked, or outsnored.

No Mice – Those critters can drive you nuts!

So why choose a shelter to sleep in?

Convenience – Less hassle. No need to unpack and set up a tent; no need to dismantle and re-pack the tent in the morning, possibly in the rain.

Clothesline – Many shelters have them already. Easy to rig up, or simply hang garments from nails and hooks provided. Clothes are protected from outside weather.

Ease – Can sit and lean against a wall to read, journal, contemplate (I’m sore, I’m tired, I wish I had pizza and beer.)

Camaraderie!

Hiker Trail Names

Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail

Long-distance hikers usually have trail names. No one knows how this started, but thru-hikers, those who aim to hike an entire trail in one go, always go by a trail name. On the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) I met Kiwi, Pac-man, Grizzly, Spiderman, Yoyo, etc. My trail name was/is Hamlet (some of my ancestors are from Scandinavia, and my wife says I think too much).

Thru-hikers are friendly and helpful, but they make up a culture of anonymity. In six months of thru-hiking the A.T., I met and hiked with hundreds of people and never knew their real names. Even today, eight years later, I only recall them by their trail names. In this picture, that’s me, Hamlet, on the right, Songbird is in the middle, and her husband, Deja vu, is on the left.

Hiking Tip–Physical preparation

Preparing for a thru-hike of a long-distance trail

It’s not too soon to get in shape for a Spring thru-hike. So start now, during the holiday season.

How does one physically prepare for an extended hike? Most people, if they are heavy, will attempt to drop weight and work out. Many in decent shape will do more running, or jump on a treadmill. All of this is good, but there is something else you need to do.

Take a look at the pictures. In the one with the blaze on the tree, that is the actual trail to the left of the blaze. This is a particularly rocky section of the AT in Pennsylvania. No matter how many times you jog around the high school track, your legs and feet are not prepared for this. Nor roots. Roots are everywhere and anywhere–even on rocks like shown above. Tip: Start backpacking in fields, forests, and parklands near you, and build up to shakedown hikes over diverse terrain.

This way your legs and body adapt to field conditions. Although I haven’t done it, I think climbing up and down stairs in a stadium, with your backpack, will help you if you live in the city. Best of all, build yourself up to a full backpack with all attachments (tent, sleeping pad, etc.) and get outside and go. Don’t do too much, too soon, too fast; build yourself up.

Sign for the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania...

Sign for the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania where the trail cross PA Route 233 in Franklin County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)